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Anna-Maria Kellen Lecture

Singing Brahms, Performing Race: Black Musicians and the German Lied in Interwar Germany and Austria

In this talk, Kira Thurman will explore the rise in popularity of African American classical musicians in interwar Germany and Austria. Singing lieder by Schubert, Brahms, and other German composers, they challenged audiences’ expectations of what a black performer looked and sounded like in the Jazz Age. Audiences labeled singers such as Marian Anderson and Roland Hayes “negroes with white souls,” and marveled at their musical mastery. If the listener closed his or her eyes and listened, these African American musicians, many remarked, “sounded like Germans.” How had they managed to accomplish this feat? By exploring the German reception of black concert-singers, Thurman’s talk finds a new way to answer the question, “Can someone be black and German?” by instead asking another: “What has it meant to be black and to perform German music?”

21 Nov 17
19:30 - 21:00
American Academy in Berlin
Am Sanwerder 17-19
14109 Berlin-Wannsee
Speaker: Kira Thurman

This event took place on November 21, 2017.

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